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Interesting challenges for the new government

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It is a good start for the new government. Number of Cabinet ministers being reduced to 27 was a significant victory. It promotes cost effective solution and thereby leads to good governance. But the government should also focus on other important issues. The co-partners of this government are UNP, UPFA members who crossed over, JHU, TNA , SLMC, All Ceylon Muslim Congress and Digambaram’s Party. The 100 day program would be a result oriented program. But to materialize this, government needs honest contribution from stake holders. It is not an easy task. But if you have an effective plan then you may succeed.

If you look at the 100 day program, the following points are very challenging due to the need of funds.

1. The salaries of public servants will be raised by Rs 10,000 a month. Immediate relief will be provided by a payment of Rs 5,000 in February. A consolidated salary scheme will be put in place then, to cover all arrears

4. An allowance of Rs 5,000 will be paid to pensioners, pending adjustment of anomalies in pensions.

6. The Samurdhi Allowance will be increased to 200% of the present rate to a maximum of
Rs 2,000.
Government should allocate funds for all three funds. Here the government also should concentrate in ways and means to generate income to cover these expenses.
Then points 79 to 82 are important to promote peace and reconciliation.

79. Through legal and social means steps will be taken to prevent actions and speech that lead to denigration of other races and religions and of religious leaders, and spread hatred between those of different races and religions

80. Protection will be provided to all places of religious worship

81. National and Local Councils of religious leaders will be set up to promote reconciliation between those of different religions and work effectively against the spread of religious animosities

82. Measures will be taken to preserve and protect archaeological sites
A civil democratic administration will be set up in north and south. Although this point is attractive, we need to find the real meaning of this. A constitutional reform needs a 2/3 majority and in some cases a referendum. The government has gained the support of almost all Members of Parliament for the 100 days’ program, which was an important achievement.
Points 70 and 71 are needs of the hour and it will lead to establish the Independent Police Commission. Further, Points 90 and 91 would be very much encouraging to

establish an environment where right to information will be ensured.

70. The present politicization with regard to promotions in the police force will be replaced with a transparent scheme based on capacity, skills, commitment and efficiency

71. The seniority of officers of the regular police force will be safeguarded and any irregularities arising from integration of the auxiliary police force into the regular police force will be corrected

90. Both immediate and long term measures will be taken to safeguard the independence of media personnel and institutions

91. The Right to Freedom of Thought and Expression will be strengthened.
Points 51 to 53 are strong points to eliminate drug and casino menaces. This should be given preference as one of the top priorities.

51. A special consolidated Task Force will be set in place to deal with drug abuse

52. Pictorial warnings with regard to the dangers of smoking will be increased to 80%.

53. Casino businesses which were granted excessive tax relief in opposition to the advice of the Mahanayakes and the views of the people will have their licenses revoked

These were points on which the parties in the government waged long battles while in the opposition or in the former government. The casinos attracted the opposition of the Jathika Hela Urumaya even when it was part of the Rajapaksa government and pictorial warnings was a main goal of Maithripala Sirisena when he was Health Minister. The threat of the drug menace was a key “battle cry” of the opposition during the presidential election.
Point 75 would be beneficial to the Tamils who have been displaced due to war situation. We can expect that Tamils who are affected due to war will get a reasonably fair solution to their problem.

75. Relief will be provided to all those illegally displaced for various reasons from their homes and lands
Meanwhile TNA quickly got back into business, insisting the Tamil issue to the new government. TNA did not accept any ministry portfolios. TNA might have thought that if a ministry post is accepted, then the government will have some reason to delay the crucial implementations which benefit the Tamil people. But TNA agreed to put their representatives to the national council.

The writer is a Senior Journalist

Last modified on Sunday, 25 January 2015 11:01
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